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Reading: Women Writers of The Troubles


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Women Writers of The Troubles


Britta Olinder

University of Gothenburg, SE
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During the thirty years of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, writing by women was difficult to find, especially concerning the conflict and its violence. The publication of the first three heavy volumes of The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing towards the end of that period demonstrated the blindness of its male editors to female writing, leading to another two volumes focusing on women and also presenting more than expected on the conflict itself. Through looking at a selection of prose, poretry and drama written by women, this article wishes to illuminate a number of relevant issues such as: How have female writers reacted to the hate and violence, the social and political insecurity in their writing of poetry, plays and fiction? Is Robert Graecen’s question ‘Does violence stimulate creativity?’—in a letter to the Irish Times (18 Jun. 1974)—relevant also for women? In this very partial exploration, I have chosen to discuss a novel by Jennifer Johnston (Shadows on Our Skin, 1977) and one by Deirdre Madden (One by One in the Darkness, 1996), a well-known short story by Mary Beckett (‘A Belfast Woman,’ 1980), together with plays by Anne Devlin (Ourselves Alone, 1986) and Christina Reid (Tea in a China Cup, 1987), as well as poetry, by, among others, Meta Mayne Reid, Eleanor Murray, Fleur Adcock and Sinéad Morrissey.
How to Cite: Olinder, B., 2020. Women Writers of The Troubles. Nordic Journal of English Studies, 19(5), pp.202–221. DOI:
Published on 19 Dec 2020.
Peer Reviewed


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